Doug Collins clinches House leadership seat

Credit: Tamar Hallerman

Credit: Tamar Hallerman

House Republicans handed Doug Collins a seat at the leadership table on Tuesday, electing the onetime chaplain the party's No. 5 position in the chamber.

The Gainesville Republican, who has never before served in the GOP leadership, was selected to be conference vice chairman over Bill Flores, a Texan who currently leads the conservative Republican Study Committee.

At the same meeting, House Republicans unanimously selected Paul Ryan, R-Wis., for a second term as speaker. The chamber's other top party officials, including Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Whip Steve Scalise, also kept their jobs.

The position of GOP conference vice chairman is a relatively low-profile one. The officeholder sits on two secretive panels that determine committee assignments and the party's legislative agenda, among other duties.

In a brief interview following the vote, Collins said he pitched his colleagues on being able to craft a message that GOP lawmakers can sell in both deeply Republican and battleground congressional districts. The sophomore said he also plans to emphasize the party's unified agenda now that Donald Trump has captured the White House, including repealing and replacing Obamacare and overhauling of the tax code in the new Congress.

"Blending our conference's and the administration's priorities is one of the top priorities and we're going to be able to look at doing that," he said.

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